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Birth Control - Operation CD (album) cover


Birth Control


Heavy Prog

3.68 | 139 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Often bracketed within the paradigms of Krautrock but actually much more of a progressive rock outfit than anything else, Germany's Birth Control enjoyed a prolific period of activity during the 1970's after the release of their conservative-baiting self-titled debut from 1970, a deliberately controversial album whose sleeve design featured a large picture of an oral contraceptive pill. Designed as a deliberate backlash to the recent statement by the then pope Paul VI, who claimed that any kind of contraceptive was evil and immoral, Birth Control were staying true to their counter-culture origins, as each member had previously been part of various radical groups during their student days, a factor which bled into their musical ideas and informed the early part of their careers with great success. Although the first album featured a more gritty, psychedelic bent, it would be their defining second release, the excellent 'Operation', that would grant the group the public exposure and critical kudos needed to really kick-start their careers, not only in their native Germany, but throughout Central Europe as well. Again, at the group's behest, the cover art proved divisive, as the four-piece had opted for a rather gruesome image of a giant cartoon cockroach feasting on helpless - and almost naked - little babies(!), and again West Germany's conservative and religious right howled out loud in derision(some music shops even banned the LP!) However, as in many cases past and present, all the controversy actually did was stir up more media interest in the group than their detractors wanted, and 'Operation' eventually proved a modest success throughout central Europe. Featuring Bruno Frenzel(guitar, vocals), Bernd Koschmidder(bass), Bernd Noske(drums) and Reinjhold Sobotta(organ), 'Operation' showed a real musical transition from the group's rough-hewn debut. Album number two proved to be smarter, tougher and much more musically-complex, with carefully-crafted composition's such as the fiery 'Stop Little Lady' and the genuinely-catchy 'Flesh & Blood' opening up a new phase in Birth Control's evolution. As a group whose line-up would, over the years, consistently chop and change, it is remarkable how much the Berlin band's sound developed throughout the mid-seventies. 'Operation', with it's evil-sounding organ breaks, wiry guitars and intricate progressive passages, showcased a dextrous band playing without constrictions in a deliciously free- form rock style. Follow-up albums, such as the superior and cleaner-sounding 'Hoodoo Man' and the impressive concert album 'Live', would again take the Birth Control ethic even further in symphonic prog territory, with meaty guitars and frenzied keyboards adding new layers to the groups ever-developing sound without compromising their initial ideals. It is on 'Operation', though, where Birth Control would really create their first genuinely- exciting pieces of music, combining elements of cosmic Krautrock with bits and pieces of wildly explorative progressive ingredients to create a darkly-brewed concoction of metallic German rock that stands up as one of their finest albums to date. As the decade continued the line-up would again change, with the 'Operation' line-up eventually fragmenting and the band turning towards a more commercially-orientated sound as the 1980's loomed. Despite this, however, Birth Control will always be remembered for a clutch of brave, taboo- busting albums that dared to challenge the status quo through the judicious - and highly- original - use of ball-breakingly heavy, experimental kraut-prog. They really don't make 'em like this anymore. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2011
stefro | 4/5 |


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